Ralet-led Old Mill gets revenge, team crown over Severna Park

Exchange student rolls in singles

Broadneck 3rd


High Schools

May 07, 2004|By Brendan Glaccum | Brendan Glaccum,SUN STAFF

Severna Park junior Matt Bulkley battled on, grimacing on nearly every shot and watching while Old Mill's Derek Ralet unleashed a barrage of forehand winners and crisp volleys during the Anne Arundel County boys singles championship.

And as Ralet, an exchange student from Belgium, continued to get stronger, Bulkley continued to have little answer.

Ralet won impressively, 6-3, 6-1, and helped lift the Patriots to the county tournament championship yesterday at Anne Arundel Community College.

The Patriots won three of the five events - boys singles, boys doubles and mixed doubles - and finished with 37 points. The Falcons, who had defeated Old Mill twice this season in dual meets, finished second with 30. Defending tournament champion Broadneck was third (23).

"I'm just so proud of them," said Old Mill second-year coach Krissy Dryden. "After we lost to Severna Park this season, coming out and winning the tournament, you couldn't ask anything more from them."

The top-seeded Ralet dominated the draw and did not drop a game until the semifinals - a 6-1, 6-1 victory over South River's Chad Jones.

Old Mill, which finished fourth last year, has another exchange student in Pascal Albers (third in boys singles).

"They helped the team so much, not just earning points in the tournament and throughout the season, but in practice," Dryden said. "They took our practices to another level. We were fortunate to have them."

Ralet held serve in a tight first game to open the championship and then settled down.

He ripped a forehand up the line to break Bulkley for a 3-1 advantage and held to make it 4-1. Bulkley, who hurt his back diving for a ball in a 6-4, 6-4 victory against Albers in the semifinals, was wincing noticeably. But he held his next serve with an overhead smash and two forehand winners and got to within 4-3 after Ralet double-faulted on break point.

But Ralet broke back and closed out the set with two aces.

"I tried to finish points and take advantage from the beginning," Ralet said. "I was struggling a little, but as it went along, I got stronger. I served better, too."

Bulkley stretched his back between sets, trying to keep it loose, but he was clearly in discomfort as Ralet ran him from side to side.

Ralet mixed things up, staying on the baseline at times and coming to the net at others. He broke at love to open the second set with a pair of blistering forehands and a drop shot.

"One thing that was happening was he was so good at the net," Bulkley said. "He would hit a shot wide and even if I was healthy I couldn't have gotten to it. He's so big and has such a court presence. All I could do is try. He can hit it hard when he wants to, but what he does is keep the ball in play until I give him something he can nail."

Ralet broke Bulkley again at love in the third game and took 11 straight points off Bulkley's serve at the beginning of the third set.

Just when it seemed the match was all but over, Bulkley broke to get within 3-1 and put together four straight points to earn himself a game point after falling down 0-40 in his next service game. But the longest rally of the match went to Ralet to make it deuce and the undefeated Patriot won that game and the next two.

"He's played great all season and he really played well in our match," Bulkley said. "Even though I had the injury, it didn't make a huge difference because he played so well."

Ralet was as dominant as Severna Park senior Allison Daciek, who lost only four games in four matches on the way to her second straight county singles title.

Daciek defeated the No. 2 seed, Christine Aggabao of Old Mill, 6-1, 6-2, after making quick work of Glen Burnie's Lisa Ahn, 6-1, 6-0, in their semifinal.

Aggabao worked much harder in the semis, losing the first set to third-seeded Kerry Higdon before prevailing, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Durk Phillips and Chris Caldwell won boys doubles for the Patriots.

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